St Lucia's Julien Alfred made history on Thursday night by clinching the coveted 2023 Bowerman Award in Denver, Colorado, becoming the first athlete from St Lucia to win the prestigious award.

In the wake of that momentous occasion, President of the St Lucia Athletics Association, Brendaline Descartes, has commended the sprinter for her outstanding achievement.

In her senior year at the University of Texas in Austin, Alfred, contributed to five NCAA titles for the Longhorns, securing victories in the 60- and 200-m at the NCAA indoor championships and the 100- and 200m outdoor crowns in the same year. She also played a crucial role in Texas winning the 4x100 relay at the Division 1 outdoor final, contributing to the women's team title.

She also became the first female athlete to break the seven-second barrier in the 60m dash in the NCAA, a feat she accomplished three times culminating in a lifetime best of 6.94, the second fastest time in history. She also ran the second fastest time over 200m indoors, clocking an incredible 22.01. Only Merlene Ottey, who ran 21.87 in 1993 has run faster.

Alfred's win, alongside Jamaica's Jaydon Hibbert who secured the men's award, marked a significant Caribbean sweep of the prestigious accolade.

Descartes, elected as the president of the St Lucia Athletics Association in January, expressed her pride in Alfred's accomplishment and highlighted the broader significance for the sport and the country.

"Well, for me as president, it means that one, that this sport is growing and there is an opportunity for others to go out there and to also shine, but even more so for the country as well," Descartes stated.

"It means that there are no limits really. So beyond your shores, you can go out there and be somebody. You can go out there and stand tall. You could go out there and basically get the world to look in your direction," she added, emphasizing the transformative power of athletics on the global stage.

 

Descartes praised Julien Alfred's discipline and highlighted the athlete's calm demeanor, noting that Alfred's achievements were a result of meticulous preparation and focused expectations over the years.

"You could see her growth and her outstanding season. It's a testament to her winning this specialist award. So I think overall as a country, I think we are all very pleased that she has won this award, and of course, we support her wholeheartedly."

On behalf of the Saint Lucia Athletic Association, the sporting community in Saint Lucia, and the entire island, Descartes extended congratulations to Alfred and expressed continued support for her future endeavors.

"So all the best to Julien. And of course, again, it is an encouragement to all of us that yes, you can become something as long as you put your mind to it and you keep working hard at it."

Julien Alfred's historic win not only brings pride to St Lucia but serves as an inspiration for aspiring athletes in the Caribbean, showcasing that with dedication and hard work, they too can make a significant impact on the international stage.

 

In a historic moment for Caribbean athletes, Jamaican Jaydon Hibbert and St Lucian Julien Alfred made history by claiming the prestigious Bowerman Awards in Denver, Colorado on Thursday night. Both the University of Arkansas and the University of Texas in Austin had the chance to sweep the award, a feat never accomplished since its inception in 2009, with both male and female winners in the same year.

The Razorbacks had Hibbert and standout 400m/400m hurdles runner Britton Wilson, while the Longhorns featured elite sprinter Alfred and decathlete Leo Neugebauer among the six finalists. However, it was Hibbert and Alfred who walked away with the coveted Bowerman Award, creating a historic Caribbean sweep.

Hibbert, at just 18 years old, became the first Jamaican, the first college freshman, and the youngest ever athlete to win the award. On the other hand, Alfred became the first St Lucian to claim the prestigious accolade. Both athletes expressed surprise and gratitude during their emotional acceptance speeches, leaving many in tears.

Alfred's coach, Eldrick Floreal, was visibly moved as the sprinter thanked him for the emotional and mental support that transformed her from a timid 17-year-old into a confident 22-year-old woman. Alfred also expressed gratitude to her parents, her proud mother in the audience, her absent father, and her UT teammates.

Hibbert extended his thanks to his coaches, parents, and everyone who played a role in his journey from Vaz Prep through Kingston College to the University of Arkansas.

Both athletes had outstanding years for their respective schools, contributing to their teams' success. Although neither was the first from the Caribbean to win the award (an honor belonging to the late Deon Lendore of Trinidad and Tobago in 2014), their recognition marked the first time that a pair of international student-athletes were honored since the award's inception.

Hibbert, at 18, is not only the youngest winner in the award's history but also the fifth men's horizontal jumper to receive the recognition. Alfred, at 22, is the seventh female sprinter to secure the Bowerman trophy. Both athletes made significant contributions to their teams' success in the NCAA championships, setting records and earning multiple titles.

Hibbert achieved collegiate indoor and outdoor triple jump records during his freshman year, sweeping both NCAA Division 1 indoor and outdoor titles. Alfred, contributing to five NCAA titles for the Longhorns, secured victories in the 60- and 200-meter indoor championships and the 100- and 200-meter outdoor crowns in the same year. She also played a crucial role in Texas winning the 4x100 relay at the Division 1 outdoor final, contributing to the women's team title.

 

American sprinter Britton Wilson, a finalist for the prestigious Bowerman Award, sees the opportunity not only as a chance for personal recognition but also as a means to overcome the disappointment of not winning the 400m/400m hurdles double or either of the two events at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships in Texas last June.

The award that will be presented later today, Thursday, December 14 is named after legendary Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman and stands as the highest honor bestowed upon the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field. 

Wilson, who is among the six finalists for the award, expressed her excitement about the possibility of a University of Arkansas sweep, particularly alongside her close friend and fellow athlete, Jaydon Hibbert.

"Yeah, I'm super excited and definitely even more excited that I'm there with Jayden. Me and Jayden have a really great relationship, so we become super close, so besties. So it's really exciting to get to be there with someone that's like one of my best friends and the fact that both the men's staff and the women's staff are all going to be there," Wilson remarked.

The American sprinter emphasized the camaraderie and positive attitude both she and Hibbert share, regardless of the final outcome. "So the environment's going to be really exciting...we're not going to be upset either way because we're both just like so happy and blessed to be there anyway and just to have this experience."

Reflecting on the setbacks she faced, Wilson discussed the impact of injuries on her mental state during the season. "The injury definitely was a little, a little bit of a bummer on like my attitude towards the future. It definitely made things a lot more mentally challenging, but other than that I think the season was really great and I have so many positive memories."

Detailing the severity of her injuries, Wilson explained, "It was both shins. My right one was a Grade 2 stress fracture, and my left one was a Grade 4 stress fracture."

Wilson who had been dominant in both 400m and 400m hurdles all season, attempted a feat no one had managed to accomplish before – win the 400m and 400m hurdles at an NCAA championship. Both events were 25 minutes apart.

Running with stress fractures in both shins, Wilson finished second in the 400m well behind fellow Bowerman finalist Rhasidat Adeleke, who ran 49.20, just missing Wilson’s NCAA record of 49.13. Wilson was well behind in second in 49.64. To add to the disappointment of not winning the flat-four, Wilson was a distant seventh in the 400m hurdles in 55.92, much slower than the 54.67 she ran in the preliminary round.

When asked if winning the Bowerman Award could make up for the disappointment of missing out on the historic double at the championships, Wilson shared her emotional journey.

"I actually was very, very, very heartbroken after the Nationals because I've done the double so many times. And doing that double has become really easy to me. And people think it sounds kind of crazy when I say that, but it feels really easy and I like enjoy doing it. So I was really just excited to do it at Nationals and get the chance to be the first person to do it," Wilson explained.

 

"But everything just kind of wasn't in my favor. The injury was worse. Mentally, I wasn't there. And so it was really heartbreaking because in my heart, I knew I could do it, but it just didn't happen that day," she continued.

Despite the setbacks, Wilson expressed gratitude for being a Bowerman finalist and believes winning the award could be a significant redemption. "Just being a finalist has meant a lot to me. And I think if I were to win it, it would definitely make up for all the little heartbreaks that I had from that Nationals race 'cause it was really hard on me."

Fayetteville State's revered Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach, Inez Turner, is set to embrace additional responsibilities within the Broncos' Department of Athletics. A 21-time Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Coach of the Year, Turner is now appointed as the women's sports administrator overseeing the Broncos' seven female programs.

In this new role, Turner will provide vital oversight, acting as a liaison between the programs and the Director of Athletics. Her responsibilities extend to offering championship-caliber guidance to foster excellence across the board.

"Inez Turner has done a tremendous job with her programs since the day I hired her," stated Director of Athletics Anthony Bennett. "It only makes sense to put her in a position where she can mentor our coaches and provide resources so all programs will be championship contenders and one day national contenders."

Turner's role will encompass motivational advising, scheduling, academic monitoring, professional development, and the cultivation of a winning atmosphere for each women's program.

  Expressing gratitude for the recognition of her value, Coach Turner remarked, "I am grateful that Fayetteville State and the athletics director, Mr. Bennett, recognize my value and provide me with additional opportunities to become a better version of myself. This role will undoubtedly allow me to invest everything I have towards the advancement of our young lives, coaches, and all our programs."

 

Since joining Fayetteville State in 2017, Turner has led the Broncos to an unprecedented 13 CIAA Championship titles, marking the most in FSU's athletic history by a single coach. Notable achievements include six consecutive crowns for the women's cross-country program, back-to-back titles for the men, and recent successes for the women's indoor and outdoor programs.

Reflecting on her winning record, Turner shared, "Being a winner brings me enormous joy. I become enthusiastic when striving to be the greatest, and I am ready to multiply the blessings. Being a successful force in the sporting world is an adventure that can help guide and lead others to greater heights."

In a coaching career spanning since 2004, Turner has left an indelible mark, with previous coaching roles at the New York Track Club and North Carolina A&T State University. Before her tenure at FSU, she served as the head coach at Winston-Salem State University for eight years, securing nine conference titles.

Turner, a 1998 graduate of Texas State University, represented her native Jamaica in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA. Her impressive athletic career includes medals from the '94 Commonwealth Games, the '97 World Championships, and the Caribbean Free Trade Association Games. Turner has been honored as a five-time Penn Relays Wall of Famer, a National Junior College Hall of Famer, and a Hall of Famer at Texas State.

With her new role as women's sports administrator, Inez Turner is poised to extend her influence and dedication to further elevate the success of Fayetteville State's female sports programs.

 

 

 

 

 

Clemson University’s Indoor Track Facility witnessed a spectacular showcase of Jamaican talent at the Clemson Opener on December 8, 2023.

Shantae Foreman, the former Excelsior High standout renowned for her prowess in the high jump, took on a new challenge making her triple jump debut a memorable one. She leaped an impressive 13.08m  securing the top spot in the women's triple jump event.

Ronasche Fluker of Georgia State University claimed the second spot with a leap of 12.00 m. Foreman's outstanding performance added a layer of excitement to an already spirited day of competition.

Jessica McLean, a sophomore at Clemson, carved her name in the annals of the Clemson Opener with an exceptional display in the women's 1000m event. Setting a personal best of 2:53.59, McLean showcased her speed and stamina, leading the pack.

Marie Forbes, a senior from Clemson, exhibited her strength in the women's weight throw, launching an impressive 21.86m to claim victory.

Daniel Cope, a senior from Clemson, dominated the men's weight throw finals with a mighty throw of 21.31m.

British Virgin Islands sprint sensation Adaejah Hodge has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Georgia.

From Douglasville in Georgia, the 17-year-old student at Montverde Academy had several options of where to continue her academic career but eventually decided to return ‘home’.

Hodge has had an outstanding junior career during which she established a number of records for the BVI. At the 2022 Carifta Games in Jamaica, Hodge won the 100m, 200m and long jump and was awarded the prestigious Austin Sealy Award given to the most outstanding athlete of the meet.

In April 2023, she equaled Tahesia Harrigan’s national record for the 100 metres, running 11.12 seconds but later that month, made it all her own when she lowered it to 11.11 seconds in Lubbock, Texas.

She also owns the islands’ 200m record when she ran a time of 22.82 at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August 2023 when she qualified for the semi-finals becoming only the third ever female athlete from the British Virgin Islands to achieve this feat.

Running indoors in March, Hodge set a national record of 22.33 in the 200m. The time is also an Area U18 and U20 record.

Hodge is the latest Caribbean athlete to choose UGA in the coming academic year. US Virgin Islands athlete Michelle Smith and talented Trinidadian twins Sanaa and Sole Frederick have also chosen to attend the University of Georgia next fall

The US Virgin Islands’ multiple time Carifta gold medallist Michelle Smith has signed with the University of Georgia.

Smith, who attends Montverde Academy in Florida, is ranked as the number 3 recruit in the Class of 2023 in the United States, making her one of the most sought-after athletes in the USA.

The 17-year-old claimed a pair of gold medals at the 2022 Carifta Games in Kingston with 58.61 to win the U-17 Girls 400m hurdles and 2:10.78 to win the 800m. Smith returned a year later in Nassau to repeat her success, this time in the U-20 Girls section with times of 57.69 and 2:09.72.

Also in 2022, she came fifth in the 400m hurdles final at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia in 57.48.

In 2023, Smith won her first two national senior titles. At the St. Croix Educational Complex High School on July 9, Smith ran 11.83 to take the 100m title before running 57.44 to claim the 400m hurdles crown.

Later in July, Smith claimed the 400m hurdles and 800m double at the NACAC U-18 Championships in Costa Rica with times of 56.99 and 2:09.90, respectively.

She followed that up with a silver medal in the 400m hurdles at the Pan Am Under-20 Championships with 57.99 in August and 57.53 to finish fourth at the Pan Am Championships in November.

She ran a personal best and national record 56.66 at the Texas Tech Corky/Crofoot Shootout in Texas in April.

 

Talented Trinidad and Tobago sprint twins Sanaa and Sole Frederick are headed to the University of Georgia in the coming academic year, the Athens-based NCAA Division 1 university announced on Friday.

Though Trinidadian the girls live in the United States and attend the Druid Hills High School in Atlanta, Georgia.

Both 17-year-old girls run the 100m and 200m. Sanaa, who has a personal best of 11.33 in the 100m, finished third in the event at the 2023 Carifta Games in the Bahamas in April, running a time of 11.65. She went two places better in the 200m which she won in 23.60.

She and Sole were members of the T&T 4x100m relay team that won the silver medal at the Games.

She followed up that performance with a bronze medal run at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad and Tobago in August, clocking 11.48.

No slouch herself, Sole has personal best times of 11.60 for the 100m and 23.41 for the 200m.

In May, the sisters along with Southwest DeKalb High School twin brothers Isaiah Taylor and Xzaviah Taylor combined for 13 of the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) 46 medals at the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) State Track Championships.

Jamaica’s Tonyan Beckford will be attending the University of Kentucky next fall.

The talented Edwin Allen and Jamaica 400m hurdler, who boasts personal bests of 57.14 in the 400m hurdles and 52.88 over 400m, has signed a letter of intent to join the programme that already has former Hydel High star athlete Oneika McAnuff on its roster.

The NCAA Division 1 track and field powerhouse announced the signing on their Instagram account on Thursday.

Already a national representative at the junior level, Beckford is a 2023 Carifta Games 400m hurdles silver medalist and was also a member of Jamaica’s 4x400m relay team that won the silver medal at the U20 Pan Am Games in August.

The University of Kentucky has produced some of the world’s best athletes including two-time World Championship gold medalist Abby Steiner of the United States and Olympic and world champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

Jamaican 400m hurdler Jayden Brown has signed will be competing on the NCAA circuit next year for Clemson University after the school officially announced his signing on social media on Tuesday.

Brown attended Iowa Western Community College this season and finished second overall in the 400m hurdles with a personal best of 51.13 at the NJCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in New Mexico from May 18-20.

He also took top spot in the event at the Drake Relays with a 51.18 effort on April 28.

The 20-year-old competed for both Kingston College and Jamaica College at the ISSA Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, winning the Class Two 400m hurdles title while competing for the former in 2019.

 

 

LSU freshman, Brianna Lyston, has been named as the Louisiana State Writers Association (LSWA) Women’s Freshman of the Year for 2023.

The 2022 World U20 200m gold medallist enjoyed an indifferent freshman campaign for the Tigers.

Her best results came as a member of LSU’s 4x100m relay team. She was a member of their victorious quartet at the SEC Outdoor Championships where they ran 42.92 in May. The Tigers were also on the podium in the 4x100m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June. They ran a season’s best 42.52 for third.

Individually, the 19-year-old advanced to the semi-finals of the 200m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.

A month earlier, she ran a season’s best of 23.05 in the heats at the SEC Outdoor Championships. She also achieved wind-assisted times of 22.92 and 22.75 at the NCAA East Regional.

 

Jamaican Romaine Beckford, a double 2023 NCAA champion in the high jump with South Florida, has signed with Arkansas and will be part of the Razorback squad for the 2023-24 season.

Beckford recently won the high jump title at the 2023 Jamaica Championships with a mark of 7-3.75 (2.23). He will represent Jamaica at the NACAC U23 Championships this week in Costa Rica and currently is in position to qualify for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

A double 2023 NCAA champion in the high jump with marks of 7-5.25 (2.27) outdoors and 7-4.25 (2.24) indoors, Beckford set South Florida school records with his outdoor career best at the NCAA Championships as well as his indoor best of 7-5 (2.26) to win the 2023 American Athletic Conference meet.

In the 2023 American Athletic Conference outdoor meet, Beckford won the high jump (7-1.5 | 2.17) as well as the javelin with a career best throw of 194-10 (59.38). The 2023 outdoor season included a victory at Penn Relays (7-1.75 | 2.18) as well as finishing runner-up at Mt. SAC Relays (7-2.5 | 2.20) and winning the Florida Relays (7-4.25 | 2.24).

Beckford finished as runner-up in the 2022 Penn Relays high jump with a 7-3.75 (2.23) clearance prior to claiming the AAC Outdoor title (7-1.75 | 2.18). He won the 2022 AAC Indoor high jump with a 7-2.5 (2.20) clearance. Beckford represented Jamaica in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, placing eighth.

In junior college at South Plains, Beckford won the 2021 NJCAA Outdoor high jump while also competing in discus and javelin. At NJCAA Indoor, Beckford won the high jump and finished 10th in heptathlon (4,182 points). At the 2020 NJCAA Indoor, he finished second in the high jump.

 

Jamaican triple jump World Junior record holder, Jaydon Hibbert, has signed a NIL deal with Puma.

Short for Name, Image, and Likeness, an “NIL” refers to the way college athletes can receive compensation. “Using” an athlete’s NIL would involve a brand leveraging their name, image, and/or likeness through marketing and/or promotional endeavors.

The NCAA officially made it legal for athletes to profit off of their NILs on July 1, 2021. Since this initial passing, states have begun to pass their own laws detailing the rules for athletes that attend colleges in their state. Universities have also begun to produce rules and programs for their student-athletes.

Hibbert, still only 18-years-old, is currently a finalist for the 2023 Bowerman Award after a spectacular freshman season for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

He won the SEC Indoor and Outdoor titles as well as the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor crowns. To take the SEC Outdoor title, Hibbert produced a personal best, world leading and world Under-20 record 17.87m.

 

Jaydon Hibbert and Julien Alfred took a big step towards winning the 2023 Bowerman Award after coming out on top in the USTFCCCA Membership Vote as well as The Bowerman Fan Vote, respectively.

Hibbert and Alfred both get two first-place votes toward their overall tally.

More than 35,000 votes were tabulated in The Bowerman Fan Vote over the past 48 hours, marking the third consecutive year with such a turnout.

The order of the Men’s Fan Vote and the USTFCCCA Membership Vote were identical: Hibbert at the top, followed by Leo Neugebauer and Kyle Garland.

The Women’s Fan Vote and USTFCCCA Membership Vote both had Alfred at the top, while Jasmine Moore and Britton Wilson switched places between them.

Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert, a freshman at the University of Arkansas, is among the three male finalists for the 2023 Bowerman Award, collegiate track and field’s highest individual honor. The finalists that also include Kyle Garland of the University of Georgia and Leo Neugebauer of the University of Texas.

Hibbert, Garland and Neugebauer won a combined four NCAA titles, obliterated four collegiate records and notched 10 all-time top-10 performances in their respective events. This is just the second time in award history that all three men’s finalists broke at least one collegiate record (2017 was the first).

Eighteen-year-old Hibbert, formerly of Kingston College in Jamaica, is the undisputed King of the Triple Jump in collegiate history.

The Arkansas freshman completed the NCAA title sweep with a victory at the NCAA DI Outdoor Championships. Hibbert unified the indoor and outdoor collegiate records with a 17.54m effort indoors to win that NCAA crown, followed by a majestic, world-leading 17.87m outdoors at the SEC Championships.

Both marks are also U20 world records.

Prior to Hibbert taking the collegiate scene by storm, both of the collegiate records in the triple jump had stood for more than 35 years. Even more impressive might be the fact that Hibbert only needed 12 jumps all season to achieve all of those feats.

Hibbert is the third male athlete from Arkansas to be named a finalist for The Bowerman, joining 2016 award winner Jarrion Lawson and 2022 finalist Ayden Owens-Delerme. Hibbert is the fifth freshman man to be named a finalist and the youngest to be named a finalist in award history.

Garland, who hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, starred in the combined events this year. He won the heptathlon crown at the NCAA DI Indoor Championships with a near world-record 6639 points and demolished the collegiate record in the process. Outdoors, Garland amassed two of the top-4 decathlon scores in collegiate history: the first coming at the SEC Outdoor Championships where he tallied 8589 points for what is now the fourth-best; the second in a runner-up effort at the NCAA DI Outdoor Championships where he one-upped himself with 8630 points for the third-best.

Neugebauer, who hails from Germany, orchestrated a masterclass performance in the decathlon at the NCAA DI Outdoor Championships. It was on his home track in Austin, Texas, where Neugebauer amassed 8836 points to obliterate the collegiate record, set a German national record and climb all the way to No. 8 in world history.

Hibbert is one of two Caribbean athletes who are Bowerman finalists in 2023. On Monday, St Lucia’s Julien Alfred was among the three women finalists for the prestigious award.

Fan voting for The Bowerman begins Tuesday, June 27 on The Bowerman’s website and runs through Thursday, June 29. Paper voting also begins on Tuesday, June 27 and closes on July 14.

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